Blog Post No. 420
I often have trouble starting. Sitting down to get some work done is like a long race. No matter the project, job, or task, for me the topography of the course always starts with a mountain. That’s not to say the rest of the race is downhill (downhill being more difficult than some people may realize). There are other rises and plateaus, but the hardest part is always the beginning. A long term project like writing a book is filled tough starts every morning (or evening depending on when I sit down to work). If I’m writing, I may be looking at the blank page of a new chapter or the dangling end of a paragraph. When editing, I have a page full of words waiting to be culled or changed.
There is pressure in that time before I get started. It’s like there is an invisible barrier between me and the work. For years, I tried to get through that barrier by finding the right tool, beverage, music, or other distraction. Eventually I learned that the best way to get myself to start is to convince my self to just do a little bit and see where I am after that. There are times when it’s easier to start than others and even the odd occasion when I am raring to go, but for the most part, once I get to the top of that first slope, I’m going steadily enough that I can keep going. Where or when I stop is another topic. I’ve talked about it before, my arbitrary goals and guidelines, but my issue is not often getting far enough. It’s the start.
It was the same thing when I was young and in school. My mom is the one who put it into words that I struggled most with starting. She said that she felt the same thing, and while that helped, it was years before I figured out my own way of pushing through. It’s almost like there are different layers of getting started and I was at the point where I had to get started at getting started. I wish I could easily explain how I do it now, and not only so that I could tell myself on the days where I struggle and don’t get anything done. It’s just the right conditions where I have a concrete goal, manageable chunks, and the right energy. Thankfully I’m capable more days than I’m not. I learned that having other people to be accountable with helps. (I still miss going to meet my friends to work over coffee but having them an internet connection away is better than nothing).
Anyway. My point is that I took another weekend off. I was feeling a mix of being overwhelmed at the edits I have to do on the novella, being behind where I wanted to be at this point (by a good month) and not making progress with the ebook (mostly due to a bit of anxiousness that my latest attempt wouldn’t work and I would have put in a bunch of effort for nothing). As far as the novella, I’m in crunch time early. Because I rely on others for edits (and they are doing me a favour within their own timelines and busy schedules) I hate to ask too much and pressure them for quick turnarounds. Especially since I have been slow myself at times when they have asked me for reviews. This part of the process takes time and it’s partially out of my hands and that sucks. I’m really lucky that I do have people willing to help me who are reliable, though.
Right now I have to go over what Christian has sent me and start my next pass of deep cuts while he gets me the last few chapters of his edits. I’m a bit nervous with the large edits since there is a certain coherence in the story right now and while it would be better from the cuts, it could also be much worse if I don’t do it right. I need to get rid of the stuff that slows things down and doesn’t add significance while keeping any important information that may be mix in and while leaving enough flavour for the world of the story to be interesting and fun. It’s a real balancing act and I’m having trouble getting started. Though, now that I think of it, I was just complaining about not having enough time. I’d better get on it.